John Harper of the Daily News thinks that Robinson Cano needs to step things up:
More than Curtis Granderson, more than Nick Johnson, the onus falls on Cano to fill the clutch gap. Indeed, it’s time for Cano to prove he’s more than a great talent, a status he reaffirmed in 2009 with a big rebound season.
In 2010 the Yankees need for him to prove he can be a great hitter as well, one who understands situations and delivers when it counts most.
Harper goes on to note that Cano should have won a Gold Glove but that “part of winning those types of awards is earning respect around the
league as a true star, and a big part of that is earning a reputation
for being clutch.”
“There was a streak when [Cano] had made about 10 or 11 outs in a row with
runners in scoring position, and he hit nine bullets. Over the long term that usually irons itself out, but when you don’t
have 600,000 at-bats, it doesn’t iron out. His at-bats, a lot of times
were very good with runners in scoring position. I didn’t think he had
a lot of luck last year”
Practicing better patience and realizing better luck sounds like an easier trick to pull off than taking peyote, entering a Ute Indian sweat lodge and trying to commune with the Clutch Gods or whatever process Harper thinks it is that turns mere ballplayers into clutch hitters.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.